Landscape Conservation Cooperatives Work Beside Migratory Bird Joint Ventures to Advance Bird Conservation Science
By Ashley Spratt
North American bird conservation has progressed by leaps and bounds through the work of migratory bird Joint Ventures (JVs), charged with achieving the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as well as both national and international conservation plans for shorebirds, waterbirds and landbirds. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) can maximize the success of these efforts through strengthening the science foundation of bird conservation at the landscape scale.
Regional JVs, such as the Upper Mississippi River and Great Lakes Region JV, the Prairie Pothole JV, the Lower Mississippi Valley JV and the Central Hardwoods JV, are long-standing partnerships dedicated to bird conservation through cooperative planning, evaluation, monitoring and habitat delivery. Their success can be measured by the establishment of regional bird population objectives, landscape decision tools, targeted research and monitoring efforts, and substantial gains in habitats that support high priority species.
Joint Ventures have worked to build science capacity by conducting and supporting planning and evaluation projects that help partners target conservation efforts for birds. Research and monitoring efforts help answer questions regarding what, where, and how much habitat is needed to achieve bird population goals generated at continental and regional scales. The partnership approach used by JVs has been repeatedly referenced as a model for achieving conservation success.
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, including the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC, the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC, and the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC, are working alongside JV communities to fuel new science at broader scales. These LCCs are vested in natural resources issues across the Midwestern U.S., Canada, and the Great Lakes region, including portions of the Mississippi and Central migratory bird flyways. This broad geographic region also hosts the largest breeding ground for waterfowl in North America.
Landscape-scale research supported by the LCCs will help answer some of the critical questions about the impacts of natural and human-induced environmental changes on birds over time. For example, climate modeling efforts currently made possible through LCC resources will help predict changes in temperature and precipitation across the nation’s migratory bird flyways. LCCs will provide support to JVs working to focus bird habitat protection and restoration in areas that also serve to abate flooding, improve water quality, and enhance carbon sequestration. This cooperative effort will enhance the values of habitat projects for birds, ecological communities and society.
Ongoing coordination with multiple agencies and organizations is a primary function of both LCCs and JVs. LCCs aim to build pragmatic science to communicate the needs of wildlife conservation to agricultural producers, urban developers, land-use planners, state, federal, tribal and private landowners and managers, and others who affect public and private resource management. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives also provide a forum for identifying and prioritizing broad-scale conservation issues and applying science to resolve differences in objectives among multiple users of public land and water resources, many of which impact bird conservation.
Working together, JVs and LCCs will relate ongoing and future bird habitat restoration and conservation to the impacts of boundary-less environmental issues like climate change. The placement and amount of resources available for bird conservation can be positively influenced through the LCC partnership and a better understanding of broad-reaching landscape challenges.
Joint Ventures and LCCs have distinct but complementary roles that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of conservation. As the JVs continue to focus their efforts on bird conservation planning and habitat delivery within defined geographic areas, the LCC network can help expand conservation opportunities with new, larger scale science leadership, potentially benefiting a much broader suite of species. The opportunities to create connectivity between existing and desired habitats across a larger geographic area will assist natural resources managers in dealing with the daily challenges of habitat fragmentation and climate variability.